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December 21, 2010

To our clients PRs are the fourth emergency service!

There’s a longstanding perception that Christmas starts early for PRs, what with all that wining and dining of journos, and schmoozing of clients, eh…..but actually, nothing could be further from the truth.

It’s true that media relations activity can slow down, but what happens if an unavoidable issue occurs over the festive period, which affects a business’s reputation both here in Yorkshire or across the UK? Perhaps, a senior executive is caught with his or her proverbial ‘pants round their ankles’ or a factory’s premises burns down on Boxing Day?

With the increasing influence of social media it doesn’t take long for a mini crisis to become a major catastrophe thanks to the real time nature of the likes of Twitter and Facebook. Consequently, businesses need to protect themselves from the affects of circumstances out of their control 365 days a year and across all types of media.

If the forecast of more inclement weather over the holiday period is accurate, transport networks will be thrown into chaos. In fact, we’ve already had a taster of what’s to come with reports of delays on the Eurostar and rail networks. Therefore, I’m sure all transport providers are bracing themselves in preparation for more – as there’s nothing worse than a stranded traveller looking for someone to blame.

People will undoubtedly take the brunt of their frustration out on transport operators – deserved or not – and unfortunately a disgruntled (and probably cold) traveller armed with a mobile phone and access to social media apps is a very dangerous prospect!

So, what do you do if the worst happens? First of all don’t panic and crucially make sure you are prepared. Any organisation should have a crisis management plan in place, which outlines key spokespeople, key messages and an agreed course of action.

Don’t see social media as an online menace, embrace it. Communication is a two way process – as long as you have a presence on most social media applications, you can quickly relay messages ‘out to the field’ and be seen as proactive. Choosing to ignore a situation will not do your reputation any good.

99.9% of times the festive period will pass without an issue for most businesses, so make sure you’re prepared and enjoy the break – you’ve earned it!

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